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Pictures from Magnus Bärtås and Fredrik Ekman’s Excursion to North Korea

All Monsters Must Die Fredrik Ekman Kim Il-sung Kim Jong-il Magnus Bärtås North Korea Pictures Pyongyang

In 2008, Magnus Bärtås and Fredrik Ekman, authors of All Monsters Must Die, took a bizarre, heavily guided tour to North Korea to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the world’s most isolated country.

All Monsters Must Die weaves together distinct time periods in the history of North Korea using three significant events to paint a picture of the country’s past and present: the formation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in 1948 by General Kim Il-sung, the kidnapping of the greatest South Korean movie star by Kim Jong-il in 1978, and North Korea’s sixtieth anniversary in 2008.

Take a look at some exclusive photos from the trip, all taken by Magnus Bärtås, including scenes from inside an artificial village and the Pyongyang Sunan International Airport:

The Heavenly Lake at Mount Baekdu
Baekdu: The Heavenly Lake at Mount Baekdu (in North Korean mythology called “Holy Revolutionary Mountain”), at the North Korean border to China.
Workers at Mount Baekdu
Workers at Baekdu: a group of workers at Mount Baekdu.
The Juche Tower + View Pyonyang
The Juche Tower (left): A monument celebrating the former North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung after whom North Korea’s homegrown ideology, Juche, was named.
View Pyonyang (right): Pyongyang as seen from the Juche Tower.
The filmtown + North Korean homestay
The filmtown (left): The buildings depicted are supposed to represent a decadent bar street in Seoul, South Korea.
Interior of a “North Korean homestay” (right): An artificial village for tourists close to Mount Chilbo (North East of North Korea).
Pyongyang Sunan International Airport +  Mosaic
Pyongyang Sunan International Airport (left): Interior of the empty Pyongyang airport; no arrivals or departures are announced.
Mosaic (right): Mosaic at the film town outside Pyongyang
View Pyonyang
View Pyonyang II: Pyongyang as seen from the Juche Tower.
The Kumsusan Sun Memorial Palace
Mausoleum: The Kumsusan Sun Memorial Palace, which hosts the mausoleum of Kim Il Sung is one of the most important pilgrimage sites for North Korean citizens.



ALL MONSTERS MUST DIE Written by Magnus Bärtås & Fredrik Ekman

In 1948, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is founded by General Kim Il-sung.

In 1978, North Korea celebrates the thirtieth anniversary of its founding, and Kim Jong-il, who at the time is the head of the Propaganda and Agitation Department, orders the kidnapping of the greatest South Korean movie star, the actress Madame Choi, and her ex-husband, the famous film director Shin Sang-ok.

In 2008, North Korea celebrates its sixtieth anniversary, and Magnus Bärtås and Fredrik Ekman take a bizarre, heavily guided tour to the world’s most isolated country.

In All Monster Must Die, authors Magnus Bärtås and Fredrik Ekman weave together these three stories to create a mosaic of North Korea, past and present: from the Japanese occupation to the demarcation of the border at the 38th parallel and the Korean War, the development of North Korean Juche ideology, the establishment of the Kim dynasty’s cult of personality, and the aggressive manufacturing of political propaganda, which motivated the kidnapping of South Korea’s most famous film couple. Intelligent and shocking, this book offers a rare and fascinating window into the “hermit kingdom,” and includes an updated chapter on the passing of Kim Jong-il and the declaration of his son, Kim Jong-un, as supreme leader.

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